Violent TV shows, toys should be a concern to parents

I’m concerned about the violent content of some children’s cartoon shows and the toys and other products connected with them. My husband thinks they’re harmless. What’s your point of view?

Question: I’m concerned about the violent content of some children’s cartoon shows and the toys and other products connected with them. My husband thinks they’re harmless. What’s your point of view?

Answer: I share your misgivings. There’s a trend toward a brand of violence in some of today’s cartoons and toys that I see as a dangerous departure from the more traditional combat-type games in which boys have always engaged.

For one thing, the characters tend to be adults involved in adult activities, some of which are highly questionable.

I don’t feel that they are appropriate role models for impressionable young children.

In addition, there’s an occult or New Age flavor to many of these programs and products. The settings are mythical or futuristic, and the action often revolves around superstition, sorcery and magic. For these reasons they concern me for spiritual as well as psychological reasons.

The electronic media has incredible power to “sell” these dubious heroes and their exploits to our children. Studies have measured actual physiological changes that occur when kids are watching a violent television program or movie: The pulse rate quickens, the eyes dilate, the hands sweat, the mouth goes dry, and breathing accelerates.

That’s why our organization, Focus on the Family, and others have made major investments in high-quality videos and other materials for children.

We must provide alternatives for families that want their kids to have wholesome entertainment but are determined to protect them from the popular culture. We will continue to do what we can to meet that need.

Question: What causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Answer: It is believed to be inherited. Russell Barkley of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center estimates that 40 percent of ADHD kids have a parent with similar symptoms, and 35 percent have an affected sibling.

If one identical twin is affected, the chances are between 80 and 92 percent that his or her sibling will be also. ADHD is two to three times as likely to be diagnosed in boys as girls.

The cause of ADHD is unknown, but it is probably associated with subtle differences in brain structure, its neural pathways, its chemistry, its blood supply or its electrical system. As of this writing, some interesting hypotheses are emerging, although definitive conclusions can’t yet be drawn.

James Dobson is founder and Chairman Emeritus of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80995 (www.focusonthefamily.org).

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